CORONAVIRUS

NCAA cancels all 2020 winter and spring championships due to coronavirus

The court is cleared after the cancellation of the Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thur
The court is cleared after the cancellation of the Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March 12, 2020, as athletic conferences around the country canceled tournaments in response to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

The NCAA announced Thursday that all 2020 winter and spring championships have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That includes the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and next week’s NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships and two Division III championships that were to be hosted in Cedar Rapids: wrestling this weekend and baseball in the spring.

The Big Ten Conference has also canceled all spring sports regular-season and postseason events.

“We fully support the actions being taken by the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA, knowing that the health, safety, and wellness of our student-athletes is the top priority.” Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said in a statement.

“My heart aches for our student-athletes, coaches, and athletic staff, as our spring sport seasons are cut short, especially for our seniors. I sympathize with our winter sports teams who were primed to compete at their upcoming NCAA Championship events.

“We will do everything in our power to provide our full support for everyone in Iowa athletics as we move forward through the spring semester.”

This was the latest in an ongoing series of delays, suspensions and cancellations for coronavirus prevention. The NCAA announced Wednesday that it would close postseason tournaments to the general public, but after the NBA suspended play Wednesday night and all conferences canceled their basketball tournaments Thursday, it took things one step further.

It was setting up to be the year that top-ranked Iowa could take home its 24th NCAA wrestling title and first since 2010. The Hawkeyes qualified all 10 wrestlers for the national tournament and three – Pat Lugo, Alex Marinelli and two-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee – were seeded No. 1. Instead, last weekend’s Big Ten Conference title will be the last competition for the 2019-20 Hawkeyes.

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“Our coaching staff is disappointed for our guys, their families, and our fans,” Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands said in a statement. “I understand the Big Ten Conference and NCAA made decisions based on information available and are acting in what they believe is the best interest of the student-athletes. We will process this and move forward, as we always do. Our guys have a lot to be proud of and much more still to accomplish.

Both Hawkeye basketball teams were sure to receive at-large bids to the tournament as well, with the women possibly having the opportunity to host as a top-4 seed.

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